Hong Kong protests: key events of six months of anti-government anger

Category: Best data-driven reporting (small and large newsrooms)

Country/area: Hong Kong S.A.R., China

Organisation: South China Morning Post

Organisation size: Big

Publication date: 12 Sep 2019

Credit: Pablo Robles

Project description:

Hong Kong’s streets have been consumed by chaos and destruction since the anti-government movement sprang into life in June. Protesters have locked horns with riot police in often violent clashes. We used data to show how the crisis has seen the transport system paralysed and businesses with mainland China links attacked, while the government continues to refuse to cede to all five demands from protesters.

Impact reached:

By combining on-the-ground reporting with charts, maps, DataViz, illustrations, videos and photographs we were able to create a visual narrative and timeline to bring clarity and inform a curious international audience about what was happening in Hong Kong. The data also provided an impartial bird’s-eye view of the first six months of the civil disturbances that captured the world’s imagination. 

Techniques/technologies used:

To report the “Key events from Hong Kong’s anti-government protests” we monitored daily coverage over six months of protests that roiled Hong Kong. We analysed live coverage from our frontline reporters and studied photos and videos from our own journalists as well as other trusted news sources and combined them with daily police briefs.

To build this project we created a DataViz for each day and separated events into peaceful protests, violent protests and government announcements which included data such as the numbers of arrests, injuries, tear gas rounds and rubber bullets fired and public transport disruptions and train stations vandalised.

What was the hardest part of this project?

As the protests dragged on, lurching between peaceful protests and violent clashes, many details began to be lost in the noise as the government, police and protesters tried to to control the narrative for their own ends. The South China Morning Post graphics team addressed this by combining objective and factual data with photographic and video evidence to distil events to their essence. We used the scale of the video/photo to indicate the level of violence of an event – the larger the image the greater the level of violence. We made sure to include all events and provide context to avoid bias to police or protesters

What can others learn from this project?

All the data was collected manually and interpreted visually to show readers key events for the first six months of protests. Reporting the data this way makes it easy for readers to understand the complex series of events at a glance.

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